Benjamin Bergen is a professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego. He teaches and does research on language and the brain. Ben’s the author of two books; Louder than Words, which proposes a new theory of how people understand the meanings of words, and What The F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. He earned a PhD in Linguistics from UC Berkeley.
Ben’s Book Recommendation:
Five Good Questions:
- Is there truth to the myth that swear words come from a different part of our brains? What’s aphasia?
- How do swear words operate with their own grammar? It seems like fuck is a Swiss Army Knife of words.
- There appears to be a Gresham’s Law to swear words where once a word takes on a taboo meaning, it drives out all of it’s non-profane meanings. How do swear words evolve?
- What’s the story behind Samoan children’s first word?
- Is the internet leading to a homogenization of swearing? It seems like new swear words could bubble up more readily through the use of hashtags, but are we also losing some local color in the process?